THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two, Episode 3, Or, Transitions Are Hard

By Kenneth Jones
20 Feb 2013

Anjelica Huston as producer Eileen Rand.
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

Let's not even mention the Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman song called "Our Little Secret," in which JFK, in a spritz of bad taste, presses Marilyn against a wall and sings, "Let's do it now for our country." That's the smooth British actor Julian Ovenden, of London's Finding Neverland, as an actor named Simon playing JFK in the rehearsal-room scene. The song might be written off as exploratory on the part of Julia and Tom — a future trunk song?

Almost everything about this episode — which was not offered for pre-screen to media — is weighted down with convoluted exposition that, in theory, once we get through it, will transition the series from the hot mess of Season One to some clarity and energy in Season Two. It is nevertheless a major bump on the road that might dislodge even more viewers from the series.

There are no fewer than five gestating stage shows featured in "Smash," and they muddy this episode: Bombshell, of course, which is inexplicably still rehearsing numbers without any serious production timetable (or libretto); a revival of The Wiz starring Tony Award winner Veronica Moore (played by Jennifer Hudson, who sings a snippet of that show's "Home" by Charlie Smalls in this hour); a nascent rock musical called Hit List, written by librettist Kyle (Andy Mientus) and songwriter Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), meant as a future vehicle for Karen (Katharine McPhee); a revival of Liaisons, a fictional musical based on the novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (a "lost gem" of a show that, Tom says, earned Madeline Kahn a Tony nomination), meant as a project for Ivy (Megan Hilty); and a one-woman, one-night-only Broadway concert for Veronica, to be directed be Derek (Jack Davenport). You need a flow chart to follow it all.

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